I don’t know how you feel about it, but from what I can tell, sitting is getting way too popular. We sit to work, sit to eat, sit to think, and sit when we get home to relax from all of that….sitting. Clearly, sitting has crept into our daily lives, disguised as a work requirement, or a relaxing moment or as an actual goal – “sitting in the lap of luxury.” In fact I’m sitting as I write this, but a treadmill desk is in my very near future!
Although sitting can be relaxing, there is strong evidence showing that sitting is an aggressive, unhealthy activity. Our bodies were designed to move, but sitting has been making inroads into our lives for generations, first as a show of wealth (kings, queens and my Uncle Ned), and then with the invention of the chair, the Barco Lounger, the corner office and the dreaded cubicle. But in the last 10 years, sitting has really grabbed us by the rear. In America today, 60% of people spend six or more hours of the day sitting. This can’t be too surprising–after all, television, computers and commuting require people to spend hours sitting down. But how bad is that? Well, it’s a big deal—bigger than the derrière you’ll get from all that inactivity.
Before you think that this doesn’t apply to you, take an honest look at your average day. Most people wake up and sit at the table or the computer with a cup of coffee for 30 minutes, then commute for 30-40 minutes, then sit for most of the workday, another six hours. When the work is done, it’s time to sit to eat, and finally, a chance to relax in front of the TV or read or knit or play the guitar—another four hours. That adds up to almost 12 hours of sitting!
Recent research from Australia’s Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute shows that prolonged sitting is responsible for increased colon, breast, lung and prostate cancers. It also doubles your chance of getting Type II diabetes. But the news gets worse. Exercise doesn’t compensate for this. That’s right, sitting is its own risk factor that can’t be tamed by a run in the afternoon. In fact, the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center has developed a formula showing that if you do one hour of moderate exercise, the health gained, will be totally reversed if you sit for six hours. That would make you an “active couch potato.”
SITTING HAS BECOME THE SMOKING OF OUR GENERATION.
Adding even more evidence that sitting is bad news is the discovery that it suppresses a key gene (lipid phosphate phospatase-1) that helps prevent inflammation and blood clotting. This puts sitting squarely in the “scary” category. Sounds a lot like smoking, and that is exactly what many scientists are implying.
THE FACTS ABOUT SITTING
1. Your metabolism shuts down when sitting and the enzymes that breakdown fat decrease 90%.
2. Sitting over 5 hours a day will shave 3.5 years off your life even if you exercise regularly.
4. A sedentary job results in twice the chance of getting colon and rectal cancer.
5. Obese people sit 2.5 hours more per day then normal weight people.
6. Within 5 days of shifting to a sedentary lifestyle triglycerides,cholesterol and insulin levels increase This increases weight and inflammation.
7. Heavy exercisers tend to sit more than average people on their exercise days.
8. Prolonged sitting decreases the “feel good” hormones and increases depression.
9. Increased pressure from sitting generates increased fat in the buttocks.
There are things you can do to decrease sitting time and I’m sure you don’t need me tell you to stand more at work or home, but even so, try standing during phone calls, practice your balance when watching TV or just fidget at your desk. Standing breaks as short as one minute can be a game changer.
If you sit a lot and are beginning to feel effects like back pain, headaches, fatigue and difficulty sleeping, take the first step at regaining your health and schedule a consultation at our office.
Dr. Davis is a BOARD CERTIFIED CHIROPRACTIC NEUROLOGIST in Walnut Creek. He has been serving individuals with chronic pain for 30 years. For information about how you can get a free consultation with Dr. Davis, call (925) 279-4324 (HEAL). Visit us at WalnutCreekHealth.com